What are Doug (92 year old war veteran) and I to do on these long, dark nights when I pop across the expanse of lawn that separates his flat from mine? Doug was known as Nubby throughout his time in the RAF and then the army. Apparently, everyone with the name ‘Clarke’ in the army is automatically known as ‘Nobby’. No one thinks to ask why,. Well, we sit, we watch TV, we talk, we reminisce. Sometimes I think that some supernatural force has pushed us together. Often I picture us as two helpless, stranded sailors cut adrift from our nation’s territorial waters and everything we once knew. Because the alliance of two people as different as we are is unacceptable in conventional circles. And it is those circles that squeeze the world by throat. So we delicately sidestep the demands made upon us by those who have never been where he has, who have never been where I have and, please God, with a cherry on top, see to it that they never do.
And, yes, another Remembrance Sunday has passed without a remark from Doug. He is more than a war veteran is his constant refrain but nothing can change the fact that when he closes his eyes at night, he sees things that most of us could never even conceive of.